CRICKET / Praveen Kumar out with niggle; pitch looks to be a flat one
India's recent successes in the ODI series against England and in the Test series against the West Indies are expected to inspire the young Indian side to go for a clean sweep of the five-match ODI series beginning at the Barabati Stadium here on Tuesday.
With a full house expected to cheer the Indians on what looks like a flat pitch, the host has the wherewithal to put it across the West Indians who are bolstered by the arrival of limited-overs specialists.
India, of course, will miss the services of medium-pacer Praveen Kumar, out with a niggle. But, the good news is the return of Virender Sehwag, who was out with a shoulder injury after the World Cup.
“We have a very good young side. It is good that they are getting opportunities to prove their mettle. They have five games to show their skills.
“If they perform well we can continue to field a young side. We are confident of doing well. I promise that we will give our best shot. If we can put in 100 per cent, the results will follow,'' said Sehwag during the pre-match press conference.
His West Indian counterpart, Darren Sammy, was candid in admitting that his team was looking to improve.
“New players have come in and we are looking forward to the series. I hope the series turns out to be an exciting one.
“Both the teams have equally capable players who can make an impact. We hope to come out well,'' he said.
The Indian openers, Ajinkya Rahane and Parthiv Patel, did an excellent job against England but the Indian skipper said he would be the one to open and his partner would be decided after the team meeting.
India's batting is quite deep with so many talented batsmen picked for the series. Similarly, India's attack has variety.
It has three attacking pacers in R. Vinay Kumar, Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron while R. Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and the so far untested Rahul Sharma will be the spin options.
The Indians are generally slow movers on the field but this side has a number of youngsters who can make a big difference on the field with their ability to attack the ball.
Before coming to India, the West Indies won the three-match series against Bangladesh 2-1.
And there is every reason for Sammy to be positive on the eve of the first match.
Sammy said, “We have a plan as a team. We are moving towards that. We have to be more consistent. Once we play to potential, we will be up there.”
Banking on Pollard
The visiting team would be banking on the hard-hitting Kieron Pollard to deliver.
“He has done well in the World Cup where he batted well for us.
“He has a lot of knowledge about the Indian conditions and Indian players. We look forward to his knowledge,'' added Sammy.
The teams (from):
India: Virender Sehwag (Capt.), Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Parthiv Patel (wk), R. Ashwin, R. Vinay Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron, Rohit Sharma, Manoj Tiwary and Rahul Sharma.
West Indies: Darren Sammy (Capt.), Lendl Simmons, Adrian Barath, Danza Hyatt, Marlon Samuels, Darren Bravo, Denesh Ramdin, Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell, Anthony Martin, Jason Mohammed, Sunil Narine, Kieran Powell, Ravi Rampaul and Kemar Roach.
Umpires: Tony Hill (NZ), Shavir Tarapore.
Third: S. Ravi; Fourth: S. Shamsuddin.
Match Referee: David Boon (Aus).
Match starts at 2.30 p.m.